Friday Morning Europa League Multi

Eintracht Frankfurt eye up huge European scalp in Chelsea. Can Arsenal make a much-needed return to form?

Ryan Elliott
Tue, 30 Apr, 2:53 PM

Eintracht Frankfurt v Chelsea

There will be many who just expect Chelsea to qualify for the Europa League Final, but my word, if anyone underestimates Eintracht Frankfurt they’re a fool.  

Adi Hütter’s men have lost just twice in all competitions since the turn of the year, and unlike Chelsea, they’ve had an incredibly tough route to the final; emerging victorious from two-legged ties against Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter and Benfica is no mean feat, and I honestly do believe they’ll win this semi-final over two legs.

The Premier League top four battle is surely starting to take its toll on Chelsea—both mentally and physically—and while Frankfurt have just one win in their last five, this is the club’s biggest game since the 1980 UEFA Cup Final, and that’ll surely play a part.

Chelsea’s last European away game was a laborious 1-0 victory over Slavia Prague, and if they put in a similarly drab performance on Thursday, Frankfurt will turn them over.

Considering Maurizio Sarri’s men have lost five of their last eight Premier League away games, I simply cannot believe they’re favourites – I really don’t rate them.

Kevin Trapp has kept five clean sheets in his last six home games, and for me, the stars have aligned for Frankfurt to dump Chelsea out of this competition.

The hosts are good value at $3, and I wouldn’t think twice about backing them to win this first-leg.

Arsenal v Valencia

There aren’t many sides in world football who could follow-up back-to-back wins against Napoli with three consecutive defeats against Crystal Palace, Wolves and Leicester, but Arsenal are certainly one of them.

The Gunners therefore come into this Europa League semi-final with Valencia in pretty ropey shape—not least because they’ve shipped nine goals during these three defeats—and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to predict what Arsenal side will show up on any given day.

The nine straight wins at The Emirates which proceeded the Palace defeat suggests Arsenal are deservedly (slight) favourites, but I believe Valencia can cause them some serious problems.

Like Arsenal, Valencia are also on a bit of a wobble – losing their last two matches. However, Marcelino’s men lost just one of their 22 games prior to this blip, which is a phenomenal effort.

Los Ches have failed to score in just two of their last 16 away matches, and judging by how atrociously Arsenal have defended of late, I reckon they’ll have some joy in front of goal.

Will Arsenal’s home form be telling? Or will Valencia rediscover the solidity that’s served the so well this season?

The visitors were very impressive away against Atletico Madrid last week when they succumbed 3-2—a place that’s arguably harder to travel to than The Emirates—and I’m expecting them to draw upon this performance on Thursday.

I’m backing a first-leg draw.

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